Energy shortage serpent grips Balochistan
November 25, 2011
Balochistan is facing severe energy shortage that is impacting on its agriculture and business sectors. Majority of Baloch people lack confidence in the government to resolve their problems, even if the latter plans to address them. Keeping the current energy crisis in view, the provincial government has decided to use alternative energy, particularly solar energy, to operate tube-wells for promotion of agriculture in the restive province.
In this regard, foreign companies’ help has been sought as Balochistan is facing gigantic difficulties due to unannounced load shedding. Chief Minister Nawab Muhammad Aslam Raisani told Pulse that German and Italian investors were interested in making investments in the solar energy and seafood sectors of the province. Raisani said the provincial government wanted local and foreign investment in various sectors including mines and minerals, cotton, fruits particularly olive cultivation, and installation of solar and coal power plants.
He said the investors would have to face some difficulties when they express their interest. He said the provincial government had pledged to remove all such obstacles hindering investment. The chief minister said the provincial government had decided to establish a shipyard to promote sea food industry in the coastal areas of the province. He maintained that the government would welcome investment in solar and coal power production projects. He lamented that no adequate investment could be attracted in marble cutting industries, adding investment in this sector would boost the local economy.
He said the provincial government would provide all possible facilities to investors desirous of investing in Balochistan. He said a German investment group had expressed its interest to install a 50MW solar energy plant in Pakistan and the federal government would provide site for the purpose in Balochistan. He said Italian investors had also expressed their interest to invest in seafood industry in Balochistan.
According to sources in a briefing to the company, Senior Provincial Minister Maulana Abdul Wasey claimed that in January-February next year, agricultural tube wells will be shifted to solar energy to cater the dying needs of Balochistan. Governor Balochistan Nawab Zulfikhar Ali Magsi has lauded the efforts of shifting agriculture tube wells to solar energy. He said it was the best way of attaining cheap electricity.
Zamindar Action Committee Balochistan has also hailed the decision of the provincial government to convert tube wells to solar energy and expressed the hope that this announcement would not remain just an announcement as had been done in the past and practical steps would be taken in this regard so that the agriculture sector of Balochistan could be saved from destruction.
Chairman of Zamindar Action Committee Syed Taj Agha told Pulse that foreign companies had also been contacted so that the plan was made viable. He said due to load shedding the agriculture sector of the province had completely destroyed, causing losses to the growers. He said the government had announced restoration of subsidy on electricity but no notification had been issued till date. He said only four hours of electricity was provided by QESCO.
“We have contacted the government on several occasions but no heed was paid. Now we only pray that finally the government wakes up to the woes of farmers and landlords and get rid of power outages. He said if the government kept up its word then it would lead to a positive impact on the economy of the province.
In the wake of prevalent load shedding in the country, Quetta Electric Supply Company (Qesco) will provide facilities to foreign investors who wanted to invest in Balochistan. It has been told o end load shedding. Meanwhile, an agreement has been inked with Iran for import of 1100 MW electricity from Iran, of which 100 MW would be for Gwadar port, while the remaining 1000 MW would be added to the national grid.
A senior Qesco official said that the organization was in a serious financial crisis because the provincial government had not paid its dues amounting to Rs1.15bn. The officials said the worsening law and order situation in Balochistan was the major factor behind the slow recovery of power bills and sought the Frontier Constabulary’s help to recover receivables from different government departments and domestic consumers. The power distribution company faced a loss of Rs18. 489 billion in 2010-11 as an amount of Rs 12. 760 billion was collected against the total electricity bills of Rs31. 249 billion.